Plot: What’s it about?
The popular music industry is so misguided these days that it is hard to get to know most of the artists they represent. Take Britney Spears for instance, a talented Mississippi Delta youngster explodes onto the scene (can anyone say Elvis?) in the late Nineties and pretty soon everyone can’t get enough of this new phenom. But instead of letting her gigantic audience get to know this knew talent, the corporate music execs realize that the quickest and least risky way to make money is to dress her up in next to nothing and ask her to pout and sing. Fine. Fantastic. Most mothers will object while the fathers will simply ignore the issue, but both will still give their teenagers money to invest in Britney Spears. In spite of the cable network peepshow scheme, Britney actually ended up appearing to have a respectable personality, but we would have to have her out of the clutches of the music moguls to find out.
So someone got the bright idea to put Britney in a movie and since she had appeared in the Mickey Mouse Show, it would be stupid not to invest. Thus we end up with Crossroads from Paramount Pictures. The behind the scenes features and commentary on the DVD indicate that Britney had a lot of input into the making of the film in terms of what type of story it would tell, so as far as I can tell this is a step closer to knowing Miss Spears. Of course, if we are going to talk about reality, then we have to agree that Hollywood enjoys sales as much as the music studios. Anyone that can balance their checkbook can tell you that the revenue generated by this movie is directly proportional to the number of scenes that involve Britney. I can’t say for sure, but I’m fairly sure that if you press pause at any random point through out the movie, there is a 97.3% chance that Britney Spears will appear in the frame.
The story begins with three young girls Lucy (Britney’s younger stand-in is played by her younger sister, who apparently is also quite the talent), Kit (Zoe Saldana) and Mimi (Taryn Manning) burying a box of dreams in the ground to act as a time capsule which is to be dug up the night of graduation, when hopefully the three will still be best friends. 8 years later, at the end of the girl’s high school careers, the girls have grown far enough apart to barely remember each other’s name when arguing in the halls. Lucy has been busy studying to become valedictorian, Kit is quite popular, while Mimi has become pregnant and thus pushed out of the mainstream. It is Mimi who reminds the crew of their plans to dig up the box of dreams and, although Lucy and Mimi barely show up for the occasion, it is decided that they will all travel cross-country together with a guy named Ben (Anson Mount), who might be a murderer, in Ben’s beautiful 1973 Buick Skylark convertible. They all have their reasons: Lucy wants to meet her mother who lives in Arizona, Kit wants to track down her fiance, and Mimi simply wants to dip her feet in the Pacific before she has to start raising the child. As you can see, it’s all very complicated and hard to keep up with. Plus, throw in the fact that Lucy and crew perform three song and dance numbers and Lucy and Ben develop a bit of a romance, it takes every scene to make the story work and then some. In the end, it finally ends and we’ve spent an hour and a half with Britney Spears away from her music recording contract and it seems that she’s an alright artist and alright person.
Video: How does it look?
Britney and crew’s trip along the southern highways of the United States is shown in widescreen format. Sometimes the colors seem a little pale and this might be because most of the light work was concentrated on the star. For instance, the color of the Buick Skylark seems to be a cross between pale yellow and beige. I guess it was manufactured in 1973 so maybe this color was marketable then. The skin tones work for the most part but I think make-up is a more valid category for criticism here. The picture clarity is sharp and the contrast could’ve been worked out more, but I don’t think video quality was a priority during production.
Audio: How does it sound?
There are three musical numbers (“I Love Rock and Roll”, “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman” and “Overprotected”) in the film and two featured videos in the Extras (“I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet A Woman” and “Overprotected (Darkchild Remix)”). The DVD editors paid a little more attention to the sound quality on this disc. It can be listened to in 5.1 Digital Dolby Surround (English), Dolby Surround (English) and Dolby Surround (French). The sound is well presented and very crisp as is needed to recreate the overly produced tracks of the modern pop era in the privacy of your own home theatre. English subtitles are also available.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This is a collector’s edition and they didn’t pull any punches. The features include: 1. Britney’s welcome – They could have done without this. It seems last minute and Britney seems uninterested.
2. Britney’s commentary – One has to watch this to fully appreciate this endeavor. Britney had a great time making this film.
3. Director/Writer/Producer Commentary – Tamra Davisand (Director), Shonda Rhimes (Writer) and Ann Carli (Producer) seem a little disorganized putting the commentary together but they explain a lot of the motivations in the scenes, so you might watch it this way first.
4. Two Music Videos – “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet A Woman” and “Overprotected (Darkchild Remix)” Totally Digital and totally awesome.
5. The Making of Crossroads: 40 Days with Britney – These are behind the scenes on set, and interviews with Britney and the rest of the cast. This is entertaining and everyone explains what its like to hang out with Britney.
6. 7 deleted scenes with director commentary – Enjoyable outtakes are of Britney with her date on prom night, Britney and crew surprising their hotel neighbors in New Orleans, and some footage of Britney in a scene in a club with an extra flailing about in the background trying to dance.
7. First In Line: Inside the Crossroad’s Premiere – Zoe Saldana takes you to the Hollywood premiere.
8. Edit Own Britney Video – I couldn’t quite figure out what this did.
9. Taryn’s T-Shirts – Taryn Manning shows you how to make some of the shirts used in one of the music scenes.
10. Crossroads Photo Gallery
11. Trailers, Trailers, Trailers